Reading through the various arguments circulating through the blogosphere I find it really difficult to discern the core arguments of either “side” of the gun control debate. As far as I can tell, the anti-gun forces believe that a total ban of all guns combined with the recall and destruction of existing privately held guns is the objective. They want a “gun free” society and aren’t going to let a little thing like the Second Amendment stand in their way. Recently Georgetown Professor Mike Seidman argued that America should “give up” on the Constitution because its “archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.” (New York Times Opinion)
Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago. (New York Times Opinion)
On the other hand, I also have a hard time figuring out what limitations, if any, gun advocates are willing to accept. Are nuclear weapons off of the table? What about surface to air missiles? What about bazookas? Settle down folks, I am just using these examples to illustrate the point that for even the discerning reader it is difficult to understand where the pro-gun forces want a line drawn. I think that it would be fair to say that many of the pro gun forces don’t want any line.
Once you get past the visceral arguments from two sides (“all guns are bad” and “don’t take away my gun”) most of the solutions that are being discussed are nothing more than ineffective window dressing. Does anyone really feel safer know that New York now only allows seven bullets in a clip instead of eight? (New York Law) Does anyone actually think that any life will be saved by this kind of nuanced law change? Unfortunately, because both sides are really seeking absolutes, the “debate” quickly degenerates into this kind of nonsensical legislation. While there has also been some legitimate discussion of the gaps in our mental health system, that discussion has been largely swept under the rug to “get to those guns.” I also find it amusing the discussion about video game violence being a root cause of these mass shootings and can’t help but think that the demon “rock and roll” is another likely impetus to mass destruction. If video games are a root cause of violence, I am in nightly danger from my four teenage boys.
Before we have any discussion about what we are going to do about future gun manufacture and gun sales we need to acknowledge that there are already 270,000,000 guns in private ownership in the United States today. (Guns in U.S.) We are a gun culture. The very existence of our nation came to pass because of the private ownership of guns and was so important that the founding fathers put it right up near the front of the Bill of Rights just behind freedom of speech and freedom of religion. I fear that current gun legislation will be as ineffective and costly, as the post 9/11 “security” measures that increased the perception of security without really increasing public safety and did so at an enormous cost.
The point of this blog is to have open discussion and the sharing of ideas. I have some open questions for staunch gun control advocates: 1) what do we do about the 270,000,000 guns of the streets of America today? 2) Why aren’t we doing a better job of enforcing current gun laws? 3) If we can’t enforce gun laws on the books already, what is the point of new gun control measures? and 4) Is it really possible to prevent crazy people from killing people?